Skip to main content

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)


Change never unfolds when you sit idly back and wait. Instead, those who steadfastly fight on behalf of society’s most vulnerable—identifying, amplifying, and finding solutions to their plight—generate that forward-moving force that drives progress. You acknowledge that advocacy is the first step toward social and legislative transformation, and if you’re seeking to translate your intense motivation and desire to uplift others into a career, the Bachelor of Social Work degree program at Saginaw Valley State University encourages your passion while serving urban, rural, and suburban communities in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

SVSU first introduced social work courses in 1970 and achieved national accreditation in 1983. Continuously accredited since, our BSW degree trains driven, nurturing individuals to become change agents through a program blending the field’s historical teachings with a modern social justice and advocacy-aware mindset. Intended to help you work toward a Limited Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW) license in the state of Michigan, the format guides you toward your future calling via fieldwork, research and experiential opportunities, and mentorship from faculty in and outside of the classroom.

Through this combination, the BSW wholly embraces your unfaltering ambition: Prepare for entry-level generalist social work roles across a number of industries, or strive ahead toward a Master of Social Work (MSW). In both contexts, the quality of and preparedness imparted through SVSU’s BSW program are known throughout the state and equip you with the tools to make an impact in healthcare, mental health, school systems, residential settings, child welfare, government, and private organizations.

For more information, contact Department Chair Michael Heron at

Cardinal Points

  • SVSU is committed to making dreams attainable through an affordable education via a range of scholarships specific to social work students.

  • Nationally accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Visit the Program Assessment materials for more information.

  • SVSU offers faculty-led study abroad and domestic service learning opportunities to Uganda, Alaska, New Mexico and more.

  •  The Social Work program hosts the Delta Omega Chapter of Phi Alpha, the national leadership honor society of social work. 

Advocacy and social justice run through the BSW program’s mission. We’re dedicated to graduating prepared leaders ready to not only take charge in health and human services agencies but to empower individuals, families, groups, and communities, whether to continue the fight against homelessness, poverty, and domestic violence or to assist those suffering from addiction or mental illness.  

To achieve this outcome, this bachelor’s degree stands on the liberal arts and evidence-based, interdisciplinary social work practices promoting human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice. The Department of Social Work & Youth Services acknowledges that the field overlaps with other disciplines, and in turn, this 51-credit program based on the Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policy Accreditation Standards (EPAS) begins with prerequisite courses in psychology, biology, political science, and economics before transitioning into a core delving into social welfare policy, human behavior in social environments, and research techniques. Electives open the door into specialized areas of the field, allowing you to explore issues related to the family unit, healthcare, aging, and policymaking. 

With the goal of preparing our students to pursue licensure and enter the workforce, learning beyond the classroom is a keystone of the BSW program. You’ll spend 450 total hours across two semesters in an agency-based experience, where you’ll assist actual clients in need. To further hone your skills, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in research with faculty, interprofessional activities, and service learning, all designed to aid with career placement and introduce graduate-level concepts. Along the way, faculty members utilize their own professional background and expertise in substance use, foster care and adoption, gerontology, LGBT youth, organizing, research, and law to provide greater insight into empowering diverse populations and serving others through community programs. 

In total, you’ll earn 124 credits across the BSW program, Basic Skills componentGeneral Education requirements, and second major or minor. This foundation: 

  • strengthens your leadership skills while preparing you to assist individuals within a diverse, multicultural society; 
  • incorporates reflection and critical thinking to elevate the learning experience and anticipate challenging situations on the job; 
  • prepares you to endeavor in a direct or indirect generalist role in accordance with the profession’s principles, values, and ethics; 
  • gives you the knowledge and empathetic perspective to influence policy related to alleviating poverty and oppression and supporting human rights through social justice and advocacy; 
  • allows you to determine the bio-psycho-social, spiritual, and cultural functions of individuals and groups and encourage and uplift culturally diverse perspectives; and 
  • supplies you with the skills to shepherd your community with professional social work services reflecting traditional practices and SVSU’s commitment to social justice. 

Learn more about the BSW program’s objectives and how they shape the curriculum. 

Highlighted Courses

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Key Electives

Click here to see a listing of programs




Your Plan for a Successful College Experience

The Cardinal Plan is a unique outline created by faculty for your program at SVSU and serves as a guide for student success.

Download Your Cardinal Success Plan

Complementary Minors/Majors

Our Students After Graduation...


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Recovery Pathways
Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
GISD Head Start
Flint Community Schools

Graduate Programs

Michigan State University
Saginaw Valley State University
University of Michigan
Wayne State University

Career Opportunities

Substance Use Treatment
Nursing Home Social Worker
Foster Care Worker
Veterans Specialist
Legal Advocate
Case Manager
System of Care Liaison
Family Engagement Advocate
Child Accounting Specialists

The BSW positions you to serve vulnerable populations in the immediate region and beyond and lead health and human services programs. Beyond the competencies gained is a broader understanding of your role in society, both as someone who supports and guides others toward resources and service providers and as a voice in addressing social issues and communicating valuable, informed solutions.

  • Harness the 13% job growth between 2019 and 2029 across different social work specializations, such as child and family, medical, and clinical. (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Start your career as a generalist after receiving your LBSW in a private, human services, or government organization, including in mental health, substance use, juvenile justice, child welfare, family services, or gerontology.
  • $46,270 is the median yearly pay for a social worker in the US (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Our distinguished alumni have gone on to rewarding careers in adoption, advocacy, child and family services, community organizations, foster care, gerontology, juvenile justice, mental health, public benefits programs, school systems, and substance abuse. Reach out to them via SVSU: Connect to learn more.

Cardinal Successes

These stories offer insight into how SVSU students have turned their education into successful opportunities yielding real-world success.

Iridian Juarez

Read more…

Marianna Cuevas

Read more…